Ammunition Regulation in South Carolina

See our Ammunition Regulation for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

South Carolina prohibits the use, transportation, manufacture, possession, distribution, sale or purchase of any ammunition or shells that are coated with Teflon.1 Federal prohibitions on certain kinds of armor-piercing ammunition also apply.

A law South Carolina adopted in 2010 makes it unlawful for a person who has been convicted of a “violent crime,” as defined by South Carolina law, to possess ammunition if the violent crime is also classified as a felony offense.2

In 2013, South Carolina enacted a law making it unlawful for a person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or who has been “committed to a mental institution” to ship, transport, possess, or receive ammunition.3 The definitions of “adjudicated as a mental defective” and “committed to a mental institution” mirror federal law.

In 2015, South Carolina enacted a law making it unlawful for certain domestic abusers to possess ammunition.4 See Domestic Violence and Firearms in South Carolina for further information.

South Carolina does not:

  • Require a license for the sale of ammunition;
  • Require a license to purchase or possess ammunition; or
  • Require sellers of ammunition to maintain a record of the purchasers.
Notes
  1. S.C. Code Ann. § 16-23-520. ⤴︎
  2. S.C. Code § 16-23-500. ⤴︎
  3. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-1040. ⤴︎
  4. S.C. Code § 16-25-30 (as amended by 2013 S.C. S.B. 3). ⤴︎

Background Check Procedures in South Carolina

See our Background Check Procedures policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not unlicensed sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

South Carolina is not a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks.1 In South Carolina, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.

Federal law does not require dealers to conduct a background check if a firearm purchaser presents a state permit to purchase or possess firearms that meets certain conditions.2 As a result, concealable weapons permit holders in South Carolina are exempt from the federal background check requirement.3 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or carry firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.).

In 2012, South Carolina repealed its modest state law requirement that a person buying a handgun from a dealer present identification.4

South Carolina does not require unlicensed sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Universal Background Checks policy summary.

Notes
  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map. ⤴︎
  2. Federal law exempts persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). ⤴︎
  3. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (June 10, 2014), at: https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-permit-chart. ⤴︎
  4. 2012 S.C. Act No. 285. ⤴︎

Categories of Prohibited People in South Carolina

See our Categories of Prohibited People policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law prohibits certain persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, such as felons, certain domestic abusers, and certain people with a history of mental illness.

A law South Carolina adopted in 2010 makes it unlawful for a person who has been convicted of a “violent crime,” as defined by South Carolina law, to possess a firearm or ammunition if the violent crime is also classified as a felony offense.  A judge who hears a case involving a violent felony offense must make a specific finding on the record that the offense is a violent offense.1

South Carolina prohibits any person from possessing or acquiring a handgun if he or she:

  • Has been convicted of a “crime of violence” in any court (“crime of violence” includes murder; manslaughter (except negligent manslaughter arising out of traffic accidents); rape; mayhem; kidnapping; burglary; robbery; housebreaking; assault with intent to kill, commit rape, or rob; assault with a dangerous weapon; or assault with intent to commit any offense punishable by imprisonment for more than one year);
  • Is a fugitive from justice;
  • Is a habitual drunkard;
  • Is a drug addict;
  • Has been adjudicated mentally incompetent;
  • Is a member of a subversive organization;
  • Is under age 18 (except for a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, active or reserve, National Guard, state militia or R.O.T.C., when on duty or training; and except for the temporary loan of a handgun for instruction under the immediate supervision of a parent or adult instructor); or
  • Is a person who, by order of a circuit judge or county court judge of South Carolina, has been adjudged unfit to carry or possess a firearm (such adjudication may be made upon application by any police officer or prosecuting officer of South Carolina, or by the court on its own initiative).2

The state also prohibits the purchase, sale, lease, rental, barter, exchange, transportation into the state or possession of a firearm by an alien unlawfully present in the U.S.3

In 2015, South Carolina enacted a law prohibiting gun possession by certain domestic abusers. For details, see Domestic Violence and Firearms in South Carolina.

In 2013, South Carolina enacted a law making it unlawful for a person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or who has been “committed to a mental institution” to ship, transport, possess, or receive a firearm.4 The definitions of “adjudicated as a mental defective” and “committed to a mental institution” mirror federal law.5 The law also established a procedure for these people to regain their gun eligibility.6

In addition, South Carolina prohibits providing patients and prisoners under the jurisdiction of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (“SCDMH”) with access to firearms.7 Furthermore, patients receiving inpatient services in a program under the jurisdiction of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services of the SCDMH in a treatment facility operated by SCDMH cannot possess firearms.8 A juvenile committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice is also prohibited from possessing a firearm.9

For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the South Carolina Background Checks section.

Notes
  1. S.C. Code § 16-23-500. ⤴︎
  2. S.C. Code Ann. § 16-23-30(B). ⤴︎
  3. S.C. Code Ann. § 16-23-530(A). ⤴︎
  4. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-1040. ⤴︎
  5. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-1010. ⤴︎
  6. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-1030. ⤴︎
  7. S.C. Code Ann. § 44-23-1080. ⤴︎
  8. S.C. Code Ann. § 44-52-165(A). ⤴︎
  9. S.C. Code Ann. § 63-19-1670(A), (B)(1). ⤴︎

Concealed Carry in South Carolina

See our Concealed Carry policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

South Carolina generally requires a person to obtain a concealable weapons permit prior to carrying a handgun, whether concealed or unconcealed. Exceptions include:

  • A licensed hunter or fisherman engaged in hunting or fishing or going to or from hunting or fishing while in a vehicle or on foot;
  • Members and guests of organizations or clubs engaging in target shooting or collecting modern and antique firearms;
  • In his or her home or on his or her real property or acting with the permission of the owner or person in legal possession or control of the home or real property; or
  • The owner or person in legal possession or legal control of a fixed place of business, while at the place of business.1

South Carolina is a “shall issue” state, meaning that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (“SLED”) must issue a concealable weapons permit if the applicant meets certain qualifications. More specifically, SLED must issue a permit to any state resident or qualified nonresident who is at least 21 years of age, not prohibited by state law from possessing the firearm, and who has submitted “proof of training.”2 A “qualified nonresident” of South Carolina for purposes of a permit to carry a concealable weapon is any individual who owns real property in South Carolina but resides in another state.3

Firearm Safety Training

As part of the application for a permit, applicants must submit “proof of training.”4 “Proof of training” generally means a document that the applicant has demonstrated a proficiency in both the use of handguns and state laws pertaining to handguns, or has completed a handgun education course offered by a law enforcement agency or nationally-recognized organization that promotes gun safety within the last three years.5 The course must include:

  • Information on state law relating to handguns and the use of deadly force;
  • Information on handgun use and safety;
  • Information on the proper storage practice for handguns, with an emphasis on storage practices that reduce the possibility of accidental injury to a child; and
  • The actual firing of the handgun in the presence of an instructor.6

SLED is required to promulgate regulations containing guidelines for the courses and their instructors.7

Duration & Renewal

A concealable weapons permit is valid for five years.8 SLED will renew a permit upon completion of a renewal application, picture identification, and submission of a renewal fee.9

Upon submission of these renewal application materials, SLED must conduct or facilitate a local, state and federal background check of the applicant, and must renew the permit if the background check is favorable to the applicant.10

Disclosure or Use of Information

In South Carolina, SLED must maintain a list of all permit holders and the current status of each permit.11 SLED may release the list of permit holders or verify an individual’s permit status only if the request is made by a law enforcement agency to aid in an official investigation, or if the list is required to be released pursuant to a subpoena or court order.12

During the first quarter of each calendar year, SLED must publish a report including, for the previous calendar year, the number of valid permits, permits issued, denied, renewed, suspended, or revoked, and the name, address, and county of any person whose permit was revoked, including the reason for the revocation. The report must include a breakdown of such information by county.13

Reciprocity

Valid out-of-state permits to carry concealable weapons held by a resident of a reciprocal state must be honored by South Carolina, provided the reciprocal state requires applicants to pass a criminal background check and a firearms safety and training course.14 SLED must maintain and publish a list of those states with which South Carolina has reciprocity.15 The current list of states with which South Carolina has reciprocity can be viewed at the SLED website. However, a law enacted in 2016 provides that South Carolina automatically recognizes concealed weapon permits issued by Georgia and North Carolina.16

Notes
  1. S.C. Code Ann. §§ 16-23-20, 16-23-460. ⤴︎
  2. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(A). ⤴︎
  3. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-210(2). ⤴︎
  4. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(A)(5). ⤴︎
  5. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-210(4). ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎
  7. Id. The guidelines are available at S.C. Code Regs. 73-300 – 73-340. ⤴︎
  8. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(P). ⤴︎
  9. Id. ⤴︎
  10. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(Q). ⤴︎
  11. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(I). ⤴︎
  12. Id. ⤴︎
  13. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(T). ⤴︎
  14. S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(N). ⤴︎
  15. Id. ⤴︎
  16. Section 23-31-215(N)(2). ⤴︎

Design Safety Standards in South Carolina

In 2012, South Carolina repealed its law prohibiting firearms dealers from offering for sale handguns that failed to meet a melting point test. 1 Accordingly, South Carolina now has no law imposing design safety standards on handguns.

See our Design Safety Standards policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. 2012 S.C. Act 285. ⤴︎

Disarming Prohibited People in South Carolina

See our Disarming Prohibited People policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

South Carolina does not have a law requiring the confiscation of firearms owned by a person when he or she has become prohibited from possessing firearms. However, firearms or ammunition must be confiscated if they were involved in a violation of the prohibition against possession by a person who has been convicted of a violent felony offense.1  Similarly, firearms or ammunition must also be confiscated if they were involved in a violation of the prohibition against possession by a person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution.2

When a person loses his or her gun eligibility because he or she is adjudicated as a mental defective or is committed to a mental institution, the court must provide to the person or the person’s representative, as appropriate, a written form that conspicuously informs the person or the person’s representative of the prohibition on possession of firearms  or ammunition.3

Disarming Dangerous People by Court Order

South Carolina prohibits handgun possession by any “person who by order of a circuit judge or county court judge of this State has been adjudged unfit to carry or possess a firearm, such adjudication to be made upon application by any police officer, or by any prosecuting officer of this State, or sua sponte, by the court, but a person who is the subject of such an application is entitled to reasonable notice and a proper hearing prior to any such adjudication.”4

Notes
  1. S.C. Code § 16-23-500. ⤴︎
  2. S.C. Code § 23-31-1040. ⤴︎
  3. S.C. Code § 23-31-1040. ⤴︎
  4. S.C. Code § 16-23-30. ⤴︎

Domestic Violence & Firearms in South Carolina

South Carolina law does not:

  • Require the surrender of firearms or ammunition by domestic abusers who have become prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law; or
  • Explicitly authorize or require the removal of firearms or ammunition at the scene of a domestic violence incident.

South Carolina enacted a law in 2015 that generally prohibits the possession of firearms or ammunition by someone who has been convicted of:

  • criminal domestic violence in the first degree for ten years;
  • criminal domestic violence in the second degree and the court made specific findings and concluded that the person caused moderate bodily injury to their own household member;
  • criminal domestic violence in the second or third degree for three years if the judge at the time of sentencing ordered that the person is prohibited from possessing guns;
  • aggravated criminal domestic violence for life.1

The definition of “domestic violence” is limited to crimes against household members, and the definition of “household member” does not include dating partners.2

The law also prohibits the possession of firearms or ammunition by someone who is subject to a domestic violence order of protection, if the court ordered the person not to possess firearms, and at the time of the hearing the court made specific findings of physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or that the person offered or attempted to cause physical harm or injury to a person’s own household member with apparent and present ability under the circumstances, reasonably creating fear of imminent peril.3

The 2015 law also provides that these prohibitions apply if the person was convicted of a similar crime under the laws of another jurisdiction, or is subject to a similar protective order issued under the laws of another jurisdiction.4

In 2009, South Carolina enacted a law requiring a court, at the time a person is convicted of domestic violence or aggravated domestic violence, to deliver to the person a written form that notifies the person of the federal law prohibiting possession of firearms or ammunition.5

See our Domestic Violence & Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. S.C. Code § 16-25-30 (as amended by 2015 S.C. S.B. 3). ⤴︎
  2. See S.C. Code § 16-25-10 et seq. ⤴︎
  3. Id. ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. 2009 S.C. Acts 59 § 6 (codified as S.C. Code Ann. § 16-25-30). ⤴︎